We have a rich history of copyright laws, first starting with the printing press in the 1400s that was used to be disruptive to political and religious puppet masters as it allowed the spread of knowledge, wisdom, and awareness. Freedom of speech helped decline the Holy Roman Empire through Protestant writings, rise of nationalism from cultural self-awareness, and the Renaissance period. The ownership of ideas was a constant struggle for 300 years before the first statutes were placed in Great Britain. The laws and ethical practices have evolved over the centuries and technology gives this world the ability to touch everyone, everywhere. Changes that once took nearly centuries to pass now occur in decades, even years. However, in order to understand the future it’s important to understand the past. The Right of Privacy first started when newspapers published personal “gossip” information and the Boston Lawyer, Samuel Warren, objected to this gossip published about his o wn family leading to private property laws.
However, our current privacy laws have grown exponentially with the current NSA surveillance that is superseded to the huge amounts of data collected by Google, Apple, Facebook, and the many apps used today. Our technology tracks us- Aaron Swartz mentioned this during one of his TV interviews with our own computers spying on us. However, it’s beyond this. Information about our DNA as Genome testing is becoming more easily affordable and accessible may be public information namely to businesses and corporations. Your DNA may be analyzed and used against you with understanding your health, social habits, and behavioral- not only are we being programmed by television shows and ads on the internet, but also perhaps our own freedom of choices. Thomas Jefferson sated in 1816 that, “Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and op inions change… institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.” However, it seems that the laws created now not just keep pace but exclude our rights completely from the original constitutional amendment.
I agree that Aaron Swartz was wrongfully accused especially with just downloading JSTOR articles. He was a student and had rights to access the articles. He never fully disclosed how he was going to use them, and quite frankly I would have loved it if he did do a database study on the articles. It’s clear though that the charges put forth against Swartz were outrageous especially when no intentional harm was done. For example, threatening the President lands someone a maximum of 5 years in prison, bank robbery leads to a maximum of 20 years in prison, and helping al-Qaeda develop a nuclear weapon only gives you a maximum of 20 years in prison! Aaron faced about 50 years of prison on top of multiple fines. Why is that? Some say it may be due to his relationship with WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks gave out a few tweets regarding Aaron’s Swartz that he was involved with WikiLeaks, was involved with Julian Assange in 2010 and 2011, and that he was a WikiLeaks source. Aaron Swartz did p ut a freedom of information act request in December 2010 inquiring how Bradley Manning was treated. It’s unclear whether he was made as an example due to his relations with WikiLeaks. It is clear that the Secret Service searched Swartz’s house and office, yet did not search the hardware primarily implicated in the crime that was supposedly being investigated. In addition, JSTOR didn’t put any claims or charges against Aaron. It seems curious as to why the government was going so hard against Aaron Swartz if JSTOR and MIT pulled back? Then again, the history and facts that we have seen with Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and even Aaron Swartz giving information to the American public seems to be deemed as the “enemy” by our government. However, we do not know for sure the exact details of the case and situation, and may never be able to fully understand.
It’s obvious that there should be some form of freedom of information and knowledge. If not, how will we be able to progress as an advanced society? It will only lead to worsening segmentation of our society with groups that contain the knowledge and the majority who don’t due to the outrageous costs. Similarly with Edward Snowden, he simply was waking up the American people to the future of a society that is constantly being manipulated and controlled by television programming, advertisements, and greed of corporations. I’ve seen this firsthand through a summer internship working for a pharmaceutical company and being on a panel designing a TV commercial. The commercial was meant to strongly convince the viewer that their drug would bring many unproven benefits. However, I sat on the other end of the table when I did an externship at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that does review advertisements; however, it doesn’t resolve the foundational issue of simple ex ercise, natural fruits and vegetables, and treatment alternatives. Don’t even get me started on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the fact that the house of representatives passed legislation, H.R. 1422, that prohibits academic scientists on EPA’s scientific advisory committee from participating in “activities that directly or indirectly involve review of evaluation of their own work.” However, it does allow scientists who work for industry to serve on the board. I’m sure this wouldn’t surprise Aaron Swartz. It’s like when the early settlers were disputing about what to do with the Native Americans yet they excluded a single Native American to partake in the discussions about their own tribal lands and future!
I do fully support Obama’s strive in connecting the public, private, and government sectors together in working together rather than having an iron fist controlling everything. Others theorize that The Interview movie hack scandal was purposely done by inside US officials to bring forth the cyber security bill especially when North Korea pleaded to help the US with the investigations as well as finding no evidence against North Korea. There is some evidence that the US has implemented two separate cyber attacks: the Stuxnet virus in 2011 that was later discovered it was the US, and the flame virus in 2012 that the Washington Post reported was created by the US. Lastly, while the North Korea hack was making way into headlines, Obama’s state department official was meeting with Chinese Internet Czar to form a ‘co-operation’ with the same Czar that implemented prison sentences for online critics of the ruling Communist Party. Now before I get called a conspiracy theorist , I’m just reporting from the number of news articles and timeline of events. I trust the words of our President; however, it seems bigger interests are at a hedge way. I support free speech and our basic constitutional amendments passed down by our forefathers and the United States is still a great country to live in by far. Nevertheless, the legislation and laws presented, numerous references to Aaron Swartz and current issues we face are pushing towards a unified voice with private, public, and government working together as Obama has proposed. Hopefully, his words of true unity and fairness among all may come to pass one day. However, we should not turn a blind eye with the current legislation being reviewed at the White House as well as Congress, and be actively involved with understanding the reality of events as they pass in time versus what others claim to be a deceptive history of actions and events.
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